What is Deportation?

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Deportation is the removal or expulsion of a person from a country, especially by order of a government. Deportation can happen to people who are not citizens, and it can also occur to people who have been legally living in the United States for a long time, such as those who hold green cards (also known as lawful permanent residents).

Historically, deportation was a form of punishment used by the state to punish political criminals, for example for adultery, murder, poisoning, forgery, embezzlement, and more. It was usually accompanied by confiscation of property and loss of civil rights. Later, it was a method of controlling immigration, and it could be applied to migrants from one region to another.

In the 21st century, deportation has been a weapon of the state to control people’s lives and to scapegoat people who are seen as a threat to society. The Trump administration has accelerated and expanded deportations to remove people who are not citizens, as well as those who have committed serious crimes or who are seen as a potential public safety threat. This has led to a spike in arrests inside the country and mass deportations, even though many of those targeted have a history of low-level or old offenses.

As a result, many people are now facing deportation after living in the United States for a long period of time and forming close ties with family and community members. People facing deportation may be able to stop their removal by applying for an “individual hearing” before an immigration judge, who will review their evidence and listen to testimony from any witnesses, and then decide whether to deport them or not.

The deportation process can be lengthy, and during this time people may be able to get assistance from community organizations or legal services, including nonprofit legal organization and local immigrant advocates. In addition, some people may be able to avoid deportation by agreeing to leave the United States on their own and pay their own expenses in what is called voluntary departure.

People in this situation should be aware that if they are deported, they will be unable to return to the United States for a while, possibly forever, unless they are a citizen. People who are subject to deportation should also understand that the crime of being deported can impact their ability to apply for a visa or a green card in the future and make it difficult to get them approved even if they are eligible.

Brock’s intuitions are bolstered by a body of research that shows that, at least in the cases of those who have been removed and who face the threat of removal again, uprooting people after they have settled into ways of life can cause substantial hardship and harm to them and those with whom they have formed significant relationships. A harm-based framework that systematically evaluates the forcefulness of all normatively salient claims that seek to justify or delegitimize harmful deportations would be valuable and would help negotiate a balance between those competing considerations.